Allan Mayer’s Weblog

Posts Tagged ‘Amazon rankings

…I’m sure of it…

This is what they are doing:

First, they create a rankings system. Not a simple system, where you can find out how many books you have sold, oh no, or even a great long list of every book they sell where you can gradually watch your POD published book climb from position 4,000,000 in the world to position 3,999,999 over 25 years.

No. They have created a system where your rankings change every hour to reflect how your book is doing at that specific time in relationship to other books in its vicinity.

And it doesn’t stop there. If you go onto Amazon and instead of searching for a book search for a publisher, you can see everything put out by that particular publisher in ‘Bestselling’ order.



You see they don’t just provide you with a figure which tells you how well you are selling. Oh no. They provide you with a rank for ‘relevance.’

How the hell does that work?

Apparently it’s something to do with a combination of sales, number of positive reviews, number of times someone has looked at your page, how many spells have been cast in your name and how many of your readers are frogs called Trevor… well in my view anyway.

It’s just that having followed my Amazon rankings closely since my book was published, I have begun to question what it all means.

I originally set out to be a writer of books. Books which entertained, informed, and added a new light, however small, to a dark world.

But now I find myself checking my Amazon rankings far too often. And they have started to do weird things, which is why I think that Amazon are doing strange things with my head in the manner of a Dean Koontz novel…

As my publisher introduces more books in its recent phase of publishing, these books are enjoying their first surge of sales, and books which have done well in the rankings, including mine, are beginnng to fall. This is to be expected. The odd thing is the relationship between my ‘bestselling’ and ‘relevance’ rank.

A couple of days ago I was at number 2 in relevance. Great I thought, I must have gone up in bestsellers. Wrong. I had slipped out of the top ten to number seventeen. Yesterday relevance was 5, but I was back at number 10 in the best sellers.

Does anyone out there have a clue how this works?

If you do, I will write you a nice thankyou card in coloured crayon…

they don’t allow me to have pens anymore.

Serendipity, as any fan of Arthur C. Clarke will tell you, is the act of finding something while looking for something else.

A couple of things have happened over the past fortnight which tell me that my marketing campaign for Tasting the Wind is taking a new direction.

One of the joys of being published through a small press is the often obvious relationship between marketing initiatives and online sales. At first, I would do a promotion- a press release or a post on a forum, and later that day my Amazon rankings would climb. Recently there have been times when the rankings have altered significantly when I haven’t been doing any direct marketing. Maybe, I thought, it was people coming across something a little later than most, or probably word of mouth. Then I received two very interesting communications which highlighted the fact that there is more to marketing than I had thus far imagined.

The first was a text from an ex-member of staff who is now studying in the Social Sciences department at the University of Manchester.

She had walked into her tutors office and was totally spooked when she saw my book on her desk. She asked if I had sent it as a review copy, but it turned out that her tutor had discovered it through searching for books about learning disability on Amazon.

So… if you are promoting a book, remember to add carefully chosen tags to your Amazon page, so that your  target audience can find it.

The second thing was a contact through my website from somone I had worked with over twenty years ago. In fact she was someone who had influenced parts of my book. She had been looking for a book in Waterstone’s by someone whose name began with ‘M.’ When she saw my name she went home and googled it and discovered that it was me.

So there you go. I could never have guessed when I wrote my lists of book marketing tips for this blog that by this stage other, unexpected features would come into play.

So what happens next… someone sitting reading Tasting the Wind in the Big Brother House? *



*Yes, I do know that’s a bit far fetched… someone who can read in the Big Brother House?

A lot has happened since I started my blog one year ago this month…

This time last year I was still sending out the letters and submissions to agents and publishers and getting them returned (or not) with the standard rejection letters. Each manuscript provided exactly what each agent or publisher asked for, not a chapter more or less, an introductory letter, a synopsis and stamped addressed envelope. I never compromised on presentation, even when a friend of mine who has published a series of bestselling books told me that his break came when a publisher dished his submission out to a student, who just happened to enjoy reading it on a tube journey.

It was  advice from published writers that made me think that perhaps I was looking in the wrong place with ‘Tasting the Wind.’ One of them said that a writer’s first novel was more likely to succeed it it was ‘high concept.’ Another suggested that publishers were put off by mixed genre. A novel can be well written, but if a publisher perceives that it will not sell in large numbers it will not be taken on.

It was then that I decided to try a different route.

I had started my marketing early- about nine months before I had a published book- and that preparing of the ground proved invaluable. In August I was invited to speak at Stafford University, and it was there that a lady who later turned out to be a publishing consultant asked me who my book was aimed at, and by what time was I hoping  to get it published. For some reason I said ‘Christmas.’

It wasn’t long after this that I got an e-mail from my friend, Dominic Took, informing me that a publisher, YouWriteOn, were offering free POD publication,  before Christmas to 5000 writers .

There was never a chance that they would get 5000 books out in that time, and I wasn’t surprised when ‘Tasting the Wind’ didn’t appear until well into the New Year. So to fill the gap I carried on marketing, and through the process have met some great people. Some of them are writers who are only too happy to share ideas. Others are people who have contacted me from all corners of the globe to express interest in my work.

If you are planning to self-publish or POD publish a book, you will probably be told that it will only be bought by friends and family. I can assess this assertion in one word: WRONG. This may have been true in the days before the internet, but not now. Of course you won’t make the sales of a mainstream book- that’s a given- but if you put the work into marketing (and no one else is going to do it for you) you will find that people you have never met will buy your book, and even write reviews on it.

So, as things stand, one year on ‘Tasting the Wind’ is making modest global sales. Of over 400 YouWriteOn published books it is number one on the Book Depository chart and number two on Amazon. The immediate future is looking hopeful, as some of my biggest marketing initiatives are now in the pipeline- they include two reviews, one  in a regional magazine and another in a national.

Do I regret going down the POD route? Not at all. People are reading my story, so I consider that I have achieved what I set out to do.

Anyone who is considering POD or self-publishing must go into it with their eyes open. The chances of being ‘discovered’ by a major publisher are almost non-existent.  You will not make enormous sales, but if you work hard on promotion and find a niche market your book will not be read only by people who know you and your work will not languish on your hard drive.

So let’s see what the next twelve months bring.

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